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The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America
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The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  44 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
In 1967 the magazine "Ramparts" ran an expose revealing that the Central Intelligence Agency had been secretly funding and managing a wide range of citizen front groups intended to counter communist influence around the world. In addition to embarrassing prominent individuals caught up, wittingly or unwittingly, in the secret superpower struggle for hearts and minds, the r ...more
Hardcover, 342 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by Harvard University Press
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Apr 11, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: history, non-fiction

What readers will think about this book depends on what they already know. I thought it was okay; it's not that it didn't read well so much as how I've come to regard the Central Intelligence Agency. The book's unfortunate subtitle, "How the CIA played America," smacks of a conspiracy theory although it is the result of careful and often original research. Without the citations, it comes in at about 250 pages with a useful section of black and white photographs in the middle.

Most people are awa
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
An entertainingly written post-revisionist social history of the CIA's effort from 1947 to 1967 to covertly fund and influence various US civil society groups, from painters and musicians to student groups and organized labor. "Post-revisionist" because, unlike Frances Stonor Saunders's work, which opened this area of historical inquiry with her "Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War" (1999) and whose very title suggests her thesis that the CIA basically called the tune on US cul ...more
Apr 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
For years before and during the Cold War, the CIA funneled money to various civic groups all throughout American society -
groups that spanned writers, reporters, actors, students, and homemakers.

The organizations, and people at the highest levels, had different levels of "witting" - knowledge of the CIA's involvement. And some were more comfortable with it then others. And in all cases, the CIA quickly found out that giving money to these groups did not mean that their control over their messag
Gabriel Schoenfeld
Sep 04, 2013 rated it liked it
From the 1930s to the 1950s, under the direct supervision of Joseph Stalin, Communist parties around the world set up "front groups" -- organizations under their own control but not publicly affiliated with them -- to advance the interests of the Soviet Union. In the aftermath of World War II, America's fledgling CIA, seeking ways to counter Soviet influence in Europe and elsewhere, took a leaf from the adversary's playbook, covertly funding individuals and organizations that would advance the f ...more
Feb 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
I tried to enjoy this book, but it simply was not what I had expected based on the title. It is certainly well-researched and well-written, but it did not appeal to my imagination. I recommend it if you're interested in history of the CIA, or socio-political groups of the 1950s. But if you're looking for cover-ups, scandals, and the like, this is probably not the book for you.
Very interesting in the broad strokes. Gets a little bogged down in the particulars and a little more context would have been interesting.
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